Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25 (NIPS 2012)

*Nan Li, Longin Latecki*

We formulate clustering aggregation as a special instance of Maximum-Weight Independent Set (MWIS) problem. For a given dataset, an attributed graph is constructed from the union of the input clusterings generated by different underlying clustering algorithms with different parameters. The vertices, which represent the distinct clusters, are weighted by an internal index measuring both cohesion and separation. The edges connect the vertices whose corresponding clusters overlap. Intuitively, an optimal aggregated clustering can be obtained by selecting an optimal subset of non-overlapping clusters partitioning the dataset together. We formalize this intuition as the MWIS problem on the attributed graph, i.e., finding the heaviest subset of mutually non-adjacent vertices. This MWIS problem exhibits a special structure. Since the clusters of each input clustering form a partition of the dataset, the vertices corresponding to each clustering form a maximal independent set (MIS) in the attributed graph. We propose a variant of simulated annealing method that takes advantage of this special structure. Our algorithm starts from each MIS, which is close to a distinct local optimum of the MWIS problem, and utilizes a local search heuristic to explore its neighborhood in order to find the MWIS. Extensive experiments on many challenging datasets show that: 1. our approach to clustering aggregation automatically decides the optimal number of clusters; 2. it does not require any parameter tuning for the underlying clustering algorithms; 3. it can combine the advantages of different underlying clustering algorithms to achieve superior performance; 4. it is robust against moderate or even bad input clusterings.

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